Why we need to talk more about colourism and light-skinned privilege

Skin complexion can be a very sore point for people of colour.

Unfortunately, colourism continues to exist across black, coloured, Asian and Indian communities, says diversity advocate Devan Moonsamy.

Colourism is prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone and bias in favour of lighter-skinned people.

Colourism permeates through family structures, classrooms and even workplace environments, Moonsamy advises.

Moonsamy is the CEO of the I Can Help Africa Foundation (ICHAF) Training Institute and specialises in diversity training.

He says that phrases like "Beautiful for a dark girl" or "Yellow bone" perpetuate light-skinned privilege and create damaging social ideals of beauty.

'Yellow bone' is the contentious slang term often used to describe light-skinned black women in South Africa.

Moonsamy says people need to raise greater awareness about the negative effects of colourism, which include a rise in harmful skin-lightening products and procedures.

He adds that society needs to promote self-confidence, and positive dialogue around skin tone and authenticity.

Having more conversations about colourism will encourage people to challenge social biases, Moonsamy explains.

We need to educate people that it is completely okay to be yourself, because we are measured not on the colour of our skin but on the content of our character.

Devan Moonsamy, CEO of the ICHAF Training Institute

It's so fickle and so shallow to be measured based on texture of hair, colour of skin or even diction.

Devan Moonsamy, CEO of the ICHAF Training Institute

We need to go a little bit deeper, because young children are forming identities and self-esteem.

Devan Moonsamy, CEO of the ICHAF Training Institute

We must firmly resist beliefs that any one skin colour is better because it damages our social structure and our self-image.

Azania Mosaka, 702 presenter

Moonsamy recently wrote an opinion piece titled 'Complex Complexions', which inspired the conversation.

He engaged with listeners and presenter Azania Mosaka about his experiences and views.

Listen to the discussion on colourism:


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